Lugo Trade: What does it mean for the Os?

The Julio Lugo trade today brings up some important
questions for the Orioles going forward. Rather than answer everyone individually, I’ve tried to clear a few
things up. Some of this is from talking to team officials, some of this is fact
and some of it is pure speculation. But with the Opening Day rosters deadline 3
p.m. ET on Sunday, it’s safe to say there will be some movement coming for the O’s…

 *What does this mean
for Robert Andino?

Unfortunately, nothing good. President of baseball operations
Andy MacPhail wouldn’t comment on whether they were actively shopping Andino,
but the sentiment is the Orioles are looking to dump Andino in hopes of getting
some return -say a middling reliever – before they are forced to move him from
the 25-man roster. Keep in mind Andino is out of options so he would have to
clear waivers for the Orioles to keep him. He could do that, but given his
flexibility and relatively young age, it’s also possible another team scoops
him up.

The Orioles also have to make room somewhere for the
addition of lefty specialist Will Ohman, who will make the team as a non-roster
invitee. With Lugo as an Oriole, Andino is expendable.

*Who says Lugo is an
upgrade, anyhow?

The thought around the organization is people are growing
increasingly tired of Andino’s attitude and defensive miscues this spring. Although,
personally, I always liked the guy and he was generally well received around
the clubhouse.  It’s an interesting move
to get rid of Andino for Lugo given that the Orioles have preached building around
youth and getting guys of good character. As a 34-year-old with a previous assault
charge, Lugo is none of those things. Is he an offensive upgrade over Andino?
Probably.  Keep in mind the Orioles are
giving up nothing (in a player you’ve never heard of or a minimal dollar
amount) for Lugo, and I guess the move makes sense. Particularly given the
situation with Brian Roberts, which brings me to my next question…

*Does this mean
Roberts isn’t doing quite as well as you’ve been reporting?

Not necessarily. Roberts played the last three days prior to
Wednesday and was at the complex this morning getting ready to go workout.  But the Orioles schedule -which includes 16
consecutive games – makes it impossible to play Roberts every day, at least in
the beginning. Keep in mind the Orioles open on the awful turf at Tropicana
Field and follow Thursday’s night game with an afternoon home opener in
Baltimore. MacPhail stressed that getting Lugo will help them be prudent with Roberts.
 You don’t want to push the guy and have
him re-injure himself or have another setback. Roberts is crucial to the Orioles
success. And while Ty Wigginton has done an admirable job filling in at second
base, the O’s aren’t keen on him being there often.

*So is Wiggy in
trouble as well?

Not nearly as much as Andino.  When I asked MacPhail that exact question, he
brought up the fact that Wiggy can fill in at the corners of the infield, and therefore,
Lugo’s acquisition won’t really cut into his playing time. Plus, Wigginton is
the only veteran right-handed bat the O’s have off the bench on days where Luke
Scott is the starting DH. The Orioles have had Wigginton on the trading block
for a while, but the market for older infield guys making around $3 million doesn’t
exactly open up great trades for Baltimore.  Just look at the Minor League deals guys like
Hank Blalock had to accept.

*If we are getting
Lugo for next to nothing, who is paying his salary?

The Red Sox. The Cardinals, like the Orioles, paid Lugo
league minimum, which is currently $400,000. He’s owed $9 million this season,
and he has a $9 million vesting option for 2011 that’s unreachable because he
hasn’t compiled the necessary plate appearances since 2007. Boston is on the hook
for all of Lugo’s 2010 salary, which should — at the very least — make O’s
fans smile.

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